I’m Moving!

I’m upgrading my digs to my very own URL! Isn’t that exciting?!

Visit me at Southerners In The Great White North!

Getting Organized – Meal Planning

Because it’s January, I feel the need to do things to organize my life. I’m sure that, by February, this urge will have worn off completely, but right now it’s pretty powerful and so I’m indulging it.

Ken and I are trying to set a budget for ourselves so that we can save money for traveling. And, since food is one of our most easily controlled costs, I wanted to start with meal planning and groceries. Unfortunately, I suck at meal planning. It just takes so long when your one and only goal isn’t simply to eat lots of things that you like. When you want to continue eating lots of food that you like, save money on the groceries, cut down on the amount of food you are wasting, and be sure that you are eating healthy, fresh food, it gets more complicated. We waste a lot of food, and that costs money.

I was pondering the best way to get started today when a Facebook friend posted about the great meal she had last night thanks to The Fresh 20. And her reply to a comment asking what that was made me curious – “It’s a weekly meal plan they email you along with a shopping list. 20 fresh ingredients only and everything uses items from other meals so you’re not wasting anything.” (And I’m not using her name here for her privacy, but if she sees this and wants me to add it, I am more than happy to.)

What?! That sounded like exactly what I wanted, so I went and looked at The Fresh 20′s Facebook page where everyone else was raving about the Italian Polenta Mozzarella Bake from last nights menu. That sounded delicious! So I went and looked at their website and looked around where I found that the ingredients for the recipes are all fresh, real food, most of which you can find at a farmer’s market. They even have vegetarian and gluten-free options!

When I saw that they did Groupon vouchers, I went hunting for one of those and found it here. I asked my friend what she thought of the meal plans and she said they have liked everything they’ve cooked, have saved a ton of money, and grocery shopping takes no time at all because it’s just 20 ingredients each week. And that is something I can get on board with…especially since I could get a nice break on the price.

One commenter on their Facebook page that swayed me said that once she got the hang of the way the meal plan worked, she was able to easily substitute recipes and change things up when she wanted to. For $24 for a whole year’s worth of menus, recipes, and shopping lists, I am willing to give it a shot.  I’ll let you know what I think once we get started.

Roll Tide!

So the first thing I like about winter (or at least this particular winter) is Alabama winning the BCS National Championship! I really have just two words:

Roll Tide!

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Epiphany

January 6th. The last day I can keep my Christmas decorations up. I always hold off on taking them down until the last day when I can justify keeping them up. Some people rush to take them down as soon as possible once Christmas Day is over, some feel a need to take them down before New Year’s Day. I’ve never understood that impulse. I’m one of those that resists.

Once they’re down, I miss Christmas. Not just because I miss the lights and the decorations and the cheerful movies, but also because then it’s just winter.

It’s not that I don’t like winter. I do. I love snow and I don’t really mind the cold; it’s just that winter feels so long and in winter it feels like there is little to look forward to. I’m usually a pretty positive person, so I decided today to look for all the things I like about the post-Christmas winter season and post some of those things each week. I’ve found in my life that if you actively look for the positive you’re more likely to find it, so I’m seeking out the brightness of winter.

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Movie time! (Hobbit spoilers)

the_hobbit_2012_movie-HDI’m a bit late with Day 5 because we went to see a late showing of The Hobbit. If you haven’t been, it was excellent! I know that there were small changes from the book, but visually and in the overall feel of the film, it was just as I had always imagined.

I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings for the first time for T.A.G. in the third grade. The most terrifying part for me was the chapter “Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire”. The image of the wargs, who were joined by the goblins (not orcs), chasing the company up the trees, the goblins singing their horrible song, was the stuff of nightmares. Especially coming as it did on the heels of Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum.

I remember reading a little under the covers with a flashlight and then closing the book and physically pushing it away in fear, as though touching the paper would allow the wargs to creep out into my bedroom. But with reading, the last part you read is what sticks in your mind. It’s like a pause button, and I had to pick the book back up and continue reading in order to escape the wargs. So I’d read a bit more and repeat the process. Eventually the company and I were all rescued by those glorious eagles, and I was able to continue until I had to repeat the same process in Mirkwood.

Though there were changes, the film is true to the spirit of the story. It was so well done that, even though I knew what would come next, knew how they would escape from each of the perils they faced, I still tensed and held my breath, still gripped Ken’s arm in anticipation, still hoped they would make it out. And when those wargs showed up, I physically shuddered with a thrill of fear.

I very much missed the song that the goblins sang, because I think as a kid it very much added to the horror of their situation, but I think Peter Jackson did a fantastic job capturing the first part of the book. If you haven’t seen it yet…go!

Fifteen birds in five firtrees,
their feathers were fanned in a fiery breeze!
But, funny little birds, they had no wings!
O what shall we do with the funny little things?
Roast ‘em alive, or stew them in a pot;
fry them, boil them and eat them hot?

Burn, burn tree and fern!
Shrivel and scorch! A fizzling torch
To light the night for our delight,
Ya hey!

Bake and toast ‘em, fry and roast ‘em!
till beards blaze, and eyes glaze;
till hair smells and skins crack,
fat melts, and bones black
in cinders lie
beneath the sky!
So dwarves shall die,
and light the night for our delight,
Ya hey!
Ya-harri-hey!
Ya hoy!

Friday Fabric Finds

Today was another crummy feeling day, so I don’t have much to say, but I did pick up this lovely fabric to make a bag for the Grand Opening Giveaway I’m planning. I guess at this point it will be more like a Week After Grand Opening Giveaway. Oh well, once again, life gets in the way of my plans. It is pretty fabric, though!

Also, I have no idea who originated this particular blog meme (Friday Fabric Finds), but I have seen it on a few blogs. Maybe no one officially hosts it?  If you happen to know the answer, I’d love to know!

GO Giveaway fabric

Another first! Still so excited!

I spent most of today in bed after waking up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. I did only one thing that could be considered productive today. Well, make that two things, if you count making a pitcher of sweet tea.

I shipped out my first orders! That was fun and kind of exciting, even when I felt so crummy physically. The lady at the post office was even excited and happy for me. She asked for a card and that was when I realized that I fail at bidness…no cards yet.  So, that will be my project for tomorrow. I did include nice hand-written thank you cards with my packages, though, so that was something.

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Exciting in a different way was the fact that the money from my sales has already gone to help pay a bill this month. I know that doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to use it, but since I haven’t been able to help out in any monetary way for almost 2 years, that was a big deal to me. The next time maybe it will go towards something fun.

 

Gettin’ Crafty! – Let it snow!

I completely forgot to share my finished pillow that I was working on before Christmas. I finally finished embroidering the snowflake and then pieced together the top using solid white fabric and a snowflake print. The back is also the snowflake print fabric and I used bias tape around the edge for contrast. I was really pleased with how cute it turned out, and Ken will just have to put up with having a “Christmasy” pillow on the sofa for at least the next month, LOL!

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Happy New Year – part 2

My first sold item!

My first sold item!

In addition to starting the new year by being thankful for a happy, healthy doggie, I also kicked it off by opening my new Etsy shop in the wee hours of this morning!  I was so excited, but I tried to tell myself to be patient because sales wouldn’t happen just like that, but I actually had my first two sales today, too! And of course, there was much Kermit flailing when I got the email notification about my first sale. It had to be done. In fact, I think some Kermit flailing is in order now.

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Phew!  Guess that takes care of the first workout of the year!

This was such a great way to start 2013, especially since Ken was “supportive, but skeptical” about the idea. I had been looking at lots of shops that had similar items and I really felt that if they can do it, why can’t I? I’m capable and crafty, right?

I had no idea how much work would go into getting this started, but I feel energized by the activity rather than drained and that has to be a good sign. And the more things I make, the more ideas I get for new items and new designs. I’m really excited to see where this takes me!

I was especially pleased with my shop name and banner:

Tea FB Cover Photo

And of course the inventory has me pretty excited, too. I even designed my very first bag all by myself!

I designed this one all by myself!

I designed this one all by myself!

I am really a beginner at sewing, so I am learning a lot of new things and just figuring it out as I go along. But, I’ve never been afraid of learning new things when it comes to art or crafting. My feeling is that if you make a mistake or mess something up, it’s not a big deal. You’ve learned something new, gained some experience and you can just start again, no harm, no foul.

I hope you’ll visit my shop and tell me what you think. Just click on the sweet tea banner image above. Later this week, I’m going to try to do a giveaway here on the blog to celebrate my grand opening and the start of what I hope will be a great new year, so stay tuned for that!

 

Happy New Year!

My sweet girl on the ride to Elbow Falls

The last week has been much brighter for us, as Ilex seems to get better and better. She is back to her old self it seems, begging for food, playing, and insisting on scritches and pats by pushing her head under our hands. It’s been a really wonderful surprise to have her come back to us yet again, especially since the vet actually said to me that we “may need to have an end of life discussion”, when I first took her in just 12 days ago. As I’ve said a few times now, I’ve just about decided that Ilex is really a cat in dog’s clothing because she seems to have 9 lives. We almost lost her to pancreatitis almost 2 years ago, and once again we have been blessed with her continued presence in our lives.

She had a few days of extra neediness after coming home, but now seems to be almost fully recovered. We have one more day of antibiotics, and the new pain meds make her pretty loopy for about 2 hours after she takes them, but all I know is that she seems happy and as healthy as a 16 year old dog can be, so I will take it.

We took her to Elbow Falls here in Alberta on Sunday, and when we arrived in the parking lot she looked out the window and actually barked in what could only be interpreted as happiness. She walked all the way to the river with us, happily wagging her tail and sniffing everything she could reach. We really couldn’t have asked for a better holiday. That may sound trite, but I mean it with all sincerity.

Ilex in her little red booties at Elbow Falls, December 30, 2012

Ilex in her little red booties at Elbow Falls, December 30, 2012

Her favorite past time!

And I just wanted to share some photos of the falls, because it is just a beautiful place!

Elbow Falls isn’t far from where we live. It’s maybe a 45 minute drive from our house in Kananaskis Country.

We walked Ilex first in the woods and near the river above the falls. Then we got her settled in the car and walked out to see the waterfall.

It’s a very short walk. But, this is one instance where the payoff isn’t related to the effort involved in getting there.Elbow Falls

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